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Diary of a Dragonborn Chapter 37: Something Interesting on the Other Side

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In which our hero bitterly, and probably ignorantly, complains about blindness.
Previous: Chapter 36, Dimfall or Darkhollow or Something Like That


Spoiler alert: Serana and I walk through the portal together.


It's an interesting portal, too - the static image behind it is slightly larger than the aperture, so it actually looks like a real magical gateway rather than a flat pic. Pretty nifty. It also tells me that we're safe for a minute or two, no ambushes on the other side, because you can't animate NPCs in one of those things. Through the magic door we go!


And... everything is glowing. I mean that, seriously. I've been to Blackreach, so I'm no stranger to glowing mushrooms and crap, but freaking everything is glowing through here. You barely walk five feet without encountering a rock so bright it hurts to look at it, and the place is filled with glowing flowers of all descriptions. I'd complain that any race such as the Falmer evolving in these conditions wouldn't lose their eyesight because there's plenty to see, but then I remember that we're supposed to be accepting the admittedly better excuse that they were magicked this way. Fine. Nice for me, though, since I don't need to use a torch or those annoying light spells just to see in here. Pretty, too - I really like the purple flowers that cover some spots. I want to plant a garden with something like that.


The place may be full of glowing stuff, but it's also full of Falmer and Chaurus. Some mod I've downloaded recently seems to have made the Chaurus spit paralytic, and I'm a melee character, meaning I can't just keep well back and dodge whilst firing off arrows. Good thing I'm full of vim and vigor and covered in thick armor, or this might actually be irritating. As it is, I keep getting knocked over, but summoned Wrathmen and Serana do help out, and we make it deeper into the caves, past the totems, and... totems? Why would the Falmer, a race of blind creatures, pose a skeleton in the middle of a room? For what possible reason? Do they wander by every now and then to feel up the skeleton? I mean, if you can see, then you have a reason to put up a fenced-off statue in the middle of a room, but if you're blind, then why do it?


Anyway, eventually we make it outside, and it's actually pretty cool out here. Looks like what Riften would look like if winter ever hit the place. I'm a big fan of new architecture and vegetation, and this place has it in abundance. Plus Falmer and giant spiders, of course, because we can't have it all good, nope. Serana and I travel the place, dipping ewers in water and popping up wayshrine teleporters here and there. Other nice sights to see include frost giants that are apparently the result of a disastrous troll-giant crossbreeding program, each one having something called a Paragon in its possession, though a paragon of what I am at a loss to understand. I'm tempted to put the word "paragon" into the box containing the word "nightingale" and slap a label on it that says "words the devs liked the sound of without knowing their actual meaning." There are some books written in strange writings that I fully intend to decipher later, maybe take them to Calcelmo because he's the apparent expert on Falmer language. A bit later on we encounter a pair of dragons that insist on playing hide-and-seek underwater, which is also pretty damn cool. I'm used to dragon fights where they circle a while, then land, presenting themselves to my axe, then take off and circle again, rinse and repeat until dead... but these guys like to dive through the ice and come up in random spots, and it's actually a pretty intense fight. I really like this place, this Forgotten Vale. Of course, the way things have gone for my whole time here in Skyrim, if I really like a place there's bound to be something coming up that is absolutely awful. I am not disappointed.


These bridges, that the Falmer put up. Goddamn it. Serana and I get separated multiple times, and I keep. Falling. Off. Oops, I fell off the bridge. TGM before hitting the ground, TCL back up. Onward... and I fall off the cliff, TGM before hitting the ground, TCL back up. Kill a couple of Falmer, and I fall off the bridge again. How did these goddamn Falmer build these bridges when they can't freaking SEE? For that matter, WHY would they build these bridges? They don't connect anything to anything else important! There is no reason for these damned blind elf-degenerates to WANT to engage in an engineering nightmare of this magnitude! STICK TO YOUR CAVES, ASSHOLES! Backing up in mortal combat with a Falmer, I fell off a damn bridge again. TGM before I hit the ground, TCL back up, yeah yeah. Honestly, I'm not normally this clumsy, it's just this place is getting to me. And why the totem or shrine here again? This troll skull on top of a big rock with gemstones all round it? Returning to my question about why a blind race would put up statues like this, I must say that putting garnets and rubies around a troll skull on a makeshift altar is pretty dumb. You can't give me the argument that they knew the gems were shiny rocks, because they're blind. Don't tell me they liked the feel of the gemstones, because I'm pretty sure there are plenty of just plain rocks hanging about too with that same feel. Now I'm not saying a blind race can't make shrines or anything, but it makes no sense for a blind race to build shrines that are primarily visual in nature. If you're deaf, you don't care about the vocals, tone, pitch, and so on... you care primarily about the rhythm and volume, right? If you don't have legs you don't build stairs, if you're anosmic you don't give a damn about bad smells, and if you're blind then you don't build neat-looking but impossible-to-feel shrines. While I'm complaining to myself, Serana disappears again and I fall off a bridge again. Fuck this place, the prettiness and dragons of the past aren't worth it.


Quick question to anyone who wants to listen: why does Serana get lost so often in this place?
I have been around the world, looking for that woman girl, who knows exasperation can endure, and you know it will. I just have to make the assumption that she's off fighting something, and hopefully not getting raped by said something. Of course, knowing her AI, she's probably just stuck running against a rock or tree, or she fell over a waterfall, or got fed up and decided to head back into Skyrim and take up flower arranging as a hobby. Gods know I want to.


But no, I've got to finish this damn quest. Over the bridges, through an underground ice chasm, back up onto the surface and yet more Falmer bridges. Ooh, I've about had it. Luckily for me, we reach the last wayshrine and dip the ewer to get the last bit of water, and once across one final bridge, there's the Temple of Auri-El. The phantom priest said it was a difficult climb to the inner sanctum. Gelebor said that initiates would haul the ewer of water around as a symbol of their dedication to the cause. I gotta say, it's not that hard. I've been hauling this jug about with me, while fighting off dragons, sprinting across rickety bridges, and shouting Falmer off the cliffs, and I haven't spilled a damn drop. Once we solve the painfully pathetic "puzzle" lock (at least, I am assuming it's an attempt at a puzzle, because it's very similar to other nordic and dwemer "puzzles" in Skyrim), we're in the temple.


The walls are caving in, and there are fallen bits of masonry everywhere. My guess is, it looked like that before the place was overrun - the requirement of hauling water from shrine to shrine across a whole valley, pouring the water into the basin, emitting a beam of light, and a drawn-out rotating door lock just to get inside the door were too much for the average janitor or stonemason, so they let the place fall to pieces rather than go through that whole rigmarole every time the floor needed to be swept or a piece of cracked wall needed to be fixed. Note to future temple-building architects: if your doorway is too complicated for the custodial staff to get through, you should re-think your security measures.


Serana and I whip through the place, killing frozen Falmer, which is actually kind of neat - they're all statues, you see, but some of them come to life if you try to steal the items they're holding out. So we kill a load of Frozen Falmer and Chilled Chaurus, all the while looking for the head honcho Vyrthur, to kill him and hopefully we'll be able to grab Auri-El's Bow so we can proceed to Castle Volkihar to kill Serana's father to stop the prophecy that says that either Serana or her mother will bring about eternal night. Got all that? Good.


And there's a dude on the throne. Vyrthur, in the flesh. He asks us if we came here expecting to claim Auri-El's Bow, and I shout "yes" back at him, which seems to stump him for a bit. Direct answers do tend to confuse these people, you see. He rallies 'round and then says that I've done as he predicted and brought my companion to him, then says my usefulness is at an end. Then the ice statues of Falmer vampires begin to explode once again and attack, along with some frozen Chaurus, which does fuck-all to reduce my health, although Serana takes a knee. Vyrthur shouts out to us "An impressive display, but a wasted effort." I want to console him and say that he can do better next time, but apparently he was talking to me, not just talking to himself out loud. Oh. "You delay nothing but your own deaths!" Well, yeah, that's what living is, dude. Way to go, you figured out the secret. After a bit more fighting, he says that it's gone on long enough, to which I can only respond in the affirmative, but then he proceeds to summon yet more things for me to crunch into ice cubes suitable for putting in your drink, should your evening plans include drinking liquids cooled with Frosty Falmer Flesh (tm). Vyrthur refuses to surrender, instead choosing to shoot icicles at me and Serana and then collapse his temple on us. Although I am, obviously, way WAY tougher than Serana, it's me that gets knocked on my ass, because reasons. Serana hauls me to my feet and we run out after Vyrthur, who is sitting on the upper balcony outside, his hand to his stomach in the universal gesture of "NPC in pain" made popular by the Resident Evil games.


She tells him to give her the bow, and he goes a bit off topic, saying that he had the ears of a god. I'm not sure if he was bragging about his collection of deific body parts or talking about the pair on the sides of his head, but either way this is a creepy dude I don't particularly want to socialize with. I try to fus-ro-dah him off the balcony, but the devs Gods are set on my hearing their oh-so-clever dialogue and have locked my combat abilities, because, like always, gods forbid I skip any of this brilliant, scintillating conversation.


Vyrthur then asks her to "look into my eyes, Serana, you tell me what I am." A prat? I could have told you that without looking in your eyes, dude.
But no, she seems surprised to notice that he's a vampire, as if the "feral falmer" and vampiric frozen falmer with vestigial or cutoff wings sticking out their backs, fangs prominent, and blood dripping down their faces, wasn't a clue. There are vampires here? Outrageous! Who would have ever considered that? This whole damn thing, from start to finish, has revolved around vampires, and she's surprised that he is one too? I knew he was a vampire as soon as I saw the bastard sitting indolently on his throne.


I have to admit, though, I was surprised at the race of one individual in this whole mess - Gelebor. I thought for sure that he was a vampire as soon as I saw him. Pale skin, stays out of the sunlight in his underground lair, lived for a very long time apparently without eating, and his face is a bit reminiscent of the bifurcated look common to the uglier specimens. Whatever.


Anyway, Vyrthur proceeds to weave a threadbare web of barely-connected bits of what could laughably be called 'logic' after a three-day bender, and wraps it all up in a neat little package called a "prophecy." Apparently he was the one who created the prophecy. You know what a prophecy is? If you answered "a prediction, forecast, or divination predicting unique or special events such as war, death, birth, or other major events" you would be completely wrong. A prophecy, according to the makers of this stupid damn game Gods, is apparently "whatever I say it is." Vyrthur got vexed at Auri-El and decided to make a "prophecy" all on his own that predicted that someday a vampire would come and try to take Auri-El's bow and dip arrows in vampiric blood to blot out the sun. As vague, revenge-motivated wishing goes, it's fine, if a bit clichéd and thin, but as a prophecy it is utterly ridiculous. A wish does not a prophecy make. A daydream is not a prediction, and just wanting something to happen doesn't make it so. I guess the word "prophecy" goes into my new box along with "paragon" and "nightingale."


While we're on the subject... how the heck did this "prophecy" make it to Harkon? If Vyrthur made it up while he was ensconced on his throne, and his influence is and has been for thousands of years limited to the confines of the Forgotten Vale, how the fuck did it get to Skyrim? Message in a bottle? Or is this another of those "wish upon a star and it will be so?" I resolve to try my hand at it too. When I get back to Skyrim, I'm going to wish really hard that Alduin just drops dead and the civil war ends and they name me High King of Skyrim so I can institute a stupidity tax. Then again, such a tax would immediately bankrupt the entire population, so maybe I'd better just wish for a fast horse out of the province.


Hell, it doesn't matter anyway. Serana and I proceed to wipe the ground with Vyrthur, and then the shrine pops up and out strolls Gelebor, the ass, who apparently could have done this at any time he wished just by popping through a teleporter, but no, he had to send us to do it. Fuck you, dude. If I didn't need you to make a bunch of arrows to shoot at Harkon, I'd throw you over the balcony. Seething with barely suppressed rage leavened with a generous helping of disgust, I turn all the elven arrows I'm carrying into Sunhallowed arrows, and Serana and I skedaddle out of there. Next stop - somewhere warmer, please.


Next: Chapter 38, Assault on Vampire Central
Start at Chapter 1





To the tune of Southern Cross, by Crosby, Stills and Nash


Got out of Skyrim through a river, flowin' through a cave
Floating on this water with a girl followin' me
We are makin' for Auriel's Bow, when we get outside
Hopefully, we can grab it easily


Outta the current on this heading, lies the temple
We got lots of glowing rocks all in our way
Picking flowers, dodging arrows, talkin' to ghost priests
I hope its midnight when we exit, 'cause vampires don't like the day


Think about -
Think about how many times I have fallen
Falmer are shootin' me, some with swords are choppin'
What Hell brought her and me, I've already forgotten
I have been around the world, lookin' for that woman girl, who knows what exasperation can endure, and you know it will


When you see Auriel's Temple for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
'Cause the goddamn place is impossible to get to
Without goin' through a series of long and hard caves


So we're runnin' across the bridge, and Falmer are dyin'
And this girl is an anchor tied to me, tied with a bloody chain
I sometimes get tired of her presence, and send her flyin'
With Fus-Ro-Dah, but she always comes back, oh what a pain


Think about -
Think about how many times I have fallen
Falmer are shootin' me, some with swords are choppin'
What Hell brought her and me, I've already forgotten
I have been around the world, lookin' for that woman girl, who knows what exasperation can endure, and you know it will


So I cheated, used TGM, and TCL
And I never failed to fall, it was the easiest thing to do
But I will survive being bested
Someday Stenvar will come back and make me forget all about you
At the Castle Volkihar



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Vyrthur, just as he initiates combat, shouts "What treachery is this?" You have got to be kidding me. I get the devs wanted him to shout something as battle commenced, but someone needs to look a bit beyond stock phrases, or possibly take a gander at a dictionary. There was no goddamn treachery here.

Now, I am going to step back and make the assumption that I just misheard him. I don't have combat subtitles on, so I didn't read it, so it's entirely possible I just misheard it.

So... what did he shout? "Treachery" kind of sounds like "mockery" but that makes even less sense. Pagentry? Was he misusing the Dunmer insult "fetcher" perhaps? "What Fetchery is this?" indicating that he's surprised at the sheer amount of... uh, of fetchery around... nah. Fletchery? Nope. Archery? Hmm... we were there for the bow, after all, but it still doesn't make any damned sense. When we killed Harkon it would have made sense for him to shout about archery... maybe.

Okay, I must have misheard even worse. Nothing to do with _____tchery or anything that sounds like that. So what the hell did he say? "What _____ is this?" Stupidity? I can get behind that. Hostility? Nah, he's not that much of a dumbass either. Since we're looking for a single word that would reasonably make sense in the context, and since this is in English for my game, we're talking probably about no more than 20,000 possible words or so, right? I'd hate to go through them all trying to figure out which is the right one to go into the slot here.

Does anyone have combat subtitles on when fighting him? What does he say there?



I've noticed that I am more and more frequently breaking the fourth wall - this is turning into a person writing about a game rather than a person writing about his life. I think I'll try to stop doing that.

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I just realized that this should have been an intermission.

I mean, so far intermissions have come after chapters 9, 18, and 27, so one should have come after chapter 36, right? To continue the pattern?


Ah well, after I finish up Dawnguard I'll probably put in another poll asking where Mace should go next. Why not? A whole 10 people responded last time! Ten people read these walls of text! That's right, there are ten people out there with absolutely no lives! Eleven, counting me.

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I think he shouted "thatchery", because he saw a quaint lil' cottage over yonder? And he was pondering about the workmanship of the thatchers? But then remembered he was supposed to be fighting youse? And made a mental note inspect said thatchery close-up after defeating youse? But that never happened cos youse defeated HIM and left you pondering why he would mention said thatchery? Maybe?


P.S. I DO have a live! I just misplaced it.

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And I still haven't forgiven you for the spoiler btw. *grmph*



This is a spoiler!



Serana and I go visit Harkon and he decides to mellow out and we all end up living in his big castle in happiness and joy forevermore.



Then I kill them all. Just because.



And build a nice little cottage with some good thatching.









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Vyrthur would be so pleased to hear that! He might even come back to haunt youse, just to check out the thatchery and compare it to cottage he saw before youse slayed him.


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Vyrthur would be so pleased to hear that! He might even come back to haunt youse, just to check out the thatchery and compare it to cottage he saw before youse slayed him.


I guess I should be thatchful for the attention. I'll be sure to thatch him when I see him.

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